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flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, trumpet, trombone, 2 percussions, piano and string quartet

“You mentioned that Amerika was built on music from West Side Story. Most of your pieces are based on material appropriated from other sources. Is there a sub-text to your choice of materials?

— More often than not, the impetus is, surprisingly, sentimental or nostalgic. For example, my work Midnight with the Stars and You is based on a popular song from the 1930’s which is used at the end of the film The Shining. This film that has been a favourite of mine since I was a child (laughter all around)… So for me, there was a humourous and perhaps slightly grotesque element to taking this material and treating it abstractly. I was taking it from one context, and placing it in another, or perhaps putting it into a situation with no context. As well, I like irony. When Amerika was commissioned by New Music Concerts, it was originally to be on a concert called “All Canadian, Eh”, so I decided to look for material that was decidedly non-Canadian. I had previously been thinking about using material from West Side Story as the basis for a piece anyway, as there was some technical impetus for using this material. Bernstein’s melodies transpose in ways that give them a free atonal structure, which with a few more simple steps could be quite easily serialized. Having done this, I found it interesting to maintain some of the gestures and feelings of the original music after restructuring the pitch material”.

(Excerpt from an interview with Paul Steenhuisen)

  • Score available at CMC National (bureau à Toronto).
  • Recording: available at SMCQ’s office